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The Coolest Cultural Spaces Coming to Shanghai in 2023

Shanghai looks to the future with large scale investment in arts and culture spaces...
2023-03-13 14:00:00

A couple years ago we listical'ed a series of ongoing urban development projects in Shanghai, including eight of the most interesting, modern and diverse community-slash-cultural areas we were keenly looking forward to.

Then some stuff happened. But no one remembers what.


Here we are in 2023 with an updated listical, checking in on some of those developments that we were looking forward to and adding in a few new ones as we enter this brave new era in drama-free urban expansion and cultural proliferation.


Still an ongoing project, the construction work on Shanghai Grand Opera House is expected to be officially wrapping up in summer 2023. Located in the back Bund area of the World Expo, in that new Shanghai Expo Culture Park, the one you see that's supposed to open this summer too. The total construction size will reach 146,338 square meters, including large, medium and small opera halls with 2,000, 1,200 and 1,000 seats respectively.

The design of the Shanghai Grand Opera House is quite interesting, with the roof of the building unfolding like a fan, forming an accessible terrace. At the same time, the geometric expansion of the roof naturally forms a spiral staircase, connecting the ground and the sky, and creating an excellent viewing point facing the core urban area of Shanghai and the bank of the Huangpu River.

The public square and the public hall interpenetrate and combine with the service area along the river to form an open and active public space. At the same time, each public space is oriented towards the Huangpu River -- so that's quite nice.

In establishing an open and dynamic urban space along the river, the design is distinctive -- very Shanghai and future-oriented -- but also intended to be recognized with opera houses on an international stage.


Shanghai Museum East Branch is expected to open around the end of 2023 and looks like it's going to be super popular on Instagram. Adjacent to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, it's... well you can see from the picture.

Pretty interesting indeed.

Designed by local architect of the moment, Mr. Li Li, the structure is intended as a stark departure from other museum spaces in Shanghai and is intended to bring public interaction with cultural relics to the forefront of consideration.

A number of public leisure spaces are set at the turning point of the circular flow so that the visitors can continuously move between the indoor atrium and the outdoor lounge and terrace. It's six floors of exhibition space above ground and two floors of lecture halls, theaters, and classrooms below.

Shanghai Museum East Branch will become an open public platform integrating the collection and display of ancient Chinese art, ancient cultural education, ancient cultural research and exchange, public cultural leisure and entertainment. Expect calligraphy and painting, bronze and ceramics, and all sorts of ancient works and relics, including exhibitions wherein the public can observe the on-site restoration work of said relics.


New Bund 31 Cultural and Performing Arts Center is planned and designed by the well-known British Theater Projects. Different from the common single art center, New Bund 31 is a multi-functional comprehensive theater. With a total area of over 215,000 square meters, it includes a large-scale comprehensive cultural and performing arts center, a trendy cultural and entertainment commercial space, a 36-story Grade A office building, and a boutique hotel with 202 rooms. It is planned to open in 2023 and become a new landmark of Pudong cultural and performing arts.

New Bund 31 has a 2,500-seat largest indoor professional theater in Shanghai and a 1,500-square-meter black box performance space. The former is equipped with world-class audio systems and lighting equipment, which can meet the needs of large-scale performances like musicals, dance performances, concerts, and anything else stagable, matching the world's leading AES electronic reverberation and electro-acoustic system spaces.

The latter has a 400-seat retractable seating system, which can provide flexible performance space for music scenes, parent-child plays, immersive exhibitions, brand events, and whatever else.

It also includes a 6,000-square-meter outdoor green space that can hold performances such as music festivals. Adhering to the slogan of "Entertainment Without Boundaries • Trendy with Style" -- just rolls off the tongue.


Located on Baoshan District's Long Beach, this 180-meter-high building is expected to be completed by the end of March this year. The entire tower has 3 floors underground and 19 floors above ground. The Sightseeing Tower is a tall cylindrical structure that stands at the intersection of the Huangpu River and the Yangtze River. The dark blue curtain wall glass exterior and the purple gold "waist" and "neck" are meant to evoke the Monkey King's ultimate weapon.

Apart from serving as the standard tourism, shopping, F&B, and office spaces, the Golden Cudgel is also looking to provide space for recreational sports. The facilities include sky gardens, high-altitude rock climbing, high-altitude rope parks, in addition to the hotel on the 19th floor and the high-end commercial space on the 23rd and the thousand-seat concert hall.


Angling itself as a haven for bibliophiles, Fang Suo is part library, part bookstore, part exhibition space, part cafe, and all serenity. The Shanghai branch comes after successful iterations in Chengdu, Xi'an, Guangzhou and other cities. It's located on the east bank of the riverside, and occupies 8,000 square meters, and hosts new exhibition spaces for video and visual art.

Fang Suo is one of the most well-known private bookstores in China, and has served as a platform for not only literary endeavors but also coffee, fashion exhibitions, performances, and multiple cultural activities. Known as "the most beautiful bookstore in the country", this one's a highly anticipated opening and one you'll be hearing a lot more about in the coming months.


As the oldest and largest ancient temple in Shanghai, Longhua Temple is one of the birthplaces of Shanghai's culture and history. Today, Longhua Club, the first neighborhood commercial building in Shanghai facing the thousand-year-old Longhua Temple, is slated for a third quarter 2023 opening, endeavoring to merge the old with the new: youth culture and green ecological commercial shopping and arts.

Located in the core area of Longhua, Xuhui District with a commercial area of about 88,000 square meters, it's adjacent to Xuhui Riverside, a world-renowned waterfront in the east, and its year-round artistic and cultural activities will attract more than one million visitors every year. The surrounding area gathers nearly 300,000 office workers, and the permanent population within 3 kilometers is over half a million. The completion of Longhua Club will fill the gap that there is no large-scale urban commercial complex in the Longhua area, accelerate the urban development of the area considerably.

With Longhua Tower as the axis, the project extends the architectural style of the southeastern water town. Through the design of double eaves, sloping roofs and glass and stone materials, they're going for tradition and modernity integrated. The design of the roof terrace, sky courtyard, and corridor arch bridge makes the open space more flexible and rich in layers, forming modern streets and alleys in city areas where you can actually see the sky.

With a future this bright you gotta wear shades...